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Fish feel pain, use tools, can recognize faces, and deserve legal protection group says

Fishing is big business in Oregon. (KATU)

Legal protections for fish?

Researchers say fish feel pain, can recognize the faces of fellow fish and even humans, and deserve at least some legal protections.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, a Portland group, says protections for our finned-friends is long overdue.

“Even though fish can feel pain and suffer like other animals can, they currently have very little legal protection,” said Kelly Levenda, a Portland attorney for the group. “Fish are actually excluded from the laws that protect animals.”

Levenda hopes the change that dynamic. She has been advocating for legal protections for fish and works with law school students at more than 200 Animal Legal Defense Fund chapters around the country.

“Fish are really intelligent animals,” she said. “Some behaviors in fish can even be found in primates. Fish can use tools, they can recognize each other's fish-faces and some can even recognize human faces.”

Researchers have observed catfish using a leaf as a baby carriage. Another example of tool use is a fish who will hit a mollusk against a rock to open it,” she said.

There are 30-thousand species of fish, and more than a trillion are harvested for food each year, with many other species dying or injured in large nets.

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